If YOU have some kind of ridiculous desire to see me at places doing readings and junk, then boy oh boy, the next two months are gonna be a real treat for you, with readings at Story Club, comedy discussions, ghost stories and an event at the Sydney Writers’ Festival! No but seriously, all these events are going to be amazing and feature amazing people so once you get sick of me, there’s all sorts of other wonderful nonsense happening.


Where: Giant Dwarf, Redfern Sydney

How much: $20

Stories about seeing the car crash before it happens and yelling ‘Oh my god that vase is going to fall!’ when it’s already falling. Plus stories about Daisy Doomsdays, and Smug Susies, and I Know What’s What Wendys. And other stories.

Myf Warhurst (TV Lady, Writer, Double J Presenter)
Alex Lee (BuzzFeed Plus Telly)
Patrick Lenton (Writer of things inc. Book!)
Mark Sutton (Dr of Something)

+ Zoe Norton Lodge & Ben Jenkins


Where: Giant Dwarf, Redfern Sydney

How much: $10

It’s hilarious and spooky. It’s creepy and it’s kooky. Quite frankly, it’s altogether ooky. It’s Ghost Stories at Giant Dwarf. Sydney’s best comedians, writers and actors emerge from the shadows to deliver original urban legends and urbane legends so funny and scary that you won’t know whether to laugh or cry. You will scream though. Everyone screams.
Hosted by Pat Magee.

Line up:

Patrtick Lenton
Zoe Norton Lodge
Harry Milas
Eliza & Hannah Reilly
Benny Davis & Mark Sutton
& more!

TUESDAY 28th APRIL: Better Read’s Talking Heads – Comedy Readings

Where: Newtown Library, Sydney
How Much: FREE but bookings encouraged!

Better Read than Dead Bookshop and Newtown Library bring you a mix of the best local, emerging, and bestselling authors.

Comedy Readings:
Four of Sydney’s funniest emerging writers will be discussing and reading extracts from their forthcoming works. Patrick Lenton will be reading from his book of microfiction, A Man Made Entirely of Bats and Oliver Mol, the 2014 Scribe Non Fiction Prize-winner, from his creative non-fiction book Lion Attack! Zoe Norton Lodge (Story Club, ABC TV’s The Checkout and The Media Circus) will be discussing her forthcoming memoir and Bridget Lutherborrow will be chatting about her short story collection, Thirteen Story Horse. With such an entertaining bunch it’s bound to be a fun night!

Presented with Better Read Than Dead

Tuesday 28 April
Newtown Library

Book Online or Call 9265 9333

THURSDAY 21st MAY: A Man Made Entirely of Bats at Sydney Writers’ Festival!

Where: Bondi Pavilion, Sydney

How much: FREE, but bookings essential.

From superheroes to the super weird, A Man Made Entirely of Bats is a collection of comedic short stories and flash fiction designed to make you laugh and think too deeply about the TV show Friends. Join some of Sydney’s best comic actors as they read selected stories from A Man Made Entirely of Bats, written by award-winning writer Patrick Lenton.

Presented with Rock Surfers Theatre Company


Animal Cruelty

This story was originally read at Confession Booth, which was an absolutely hilarious and wonderful night and you should go. ALSO, I read it again at Story Club with a host of talented, talented people. Thanks for having me!

The cars were packed with case after case of cheap beer, rolled up mattresses, cans of beans and a lonely, holy coffee plunger. But before our caravan of courage could even disembark, the word arrived via text message that actually, our host didn’t want a horde of undergrads descending on her parents beach house, in a decision that can only be described as poorly timed and eminently understandable.

It was in this moment that the classic ‘Sliding Doors’ scenario was established. On the one hand, we could simply unpack the cars, go to our respective homes and listen to Bright Eyes albums, or whatever it was we did in 2004. Or we could, as our friend Mike generously suggested, go and stay in his parent’s vacant house in the middle of suburbia for a week, an option which took the concept of beach house holiday, and subtracted the words beach and holiday. Imagine the scene – Gwyneth Paltrow standing on the platform, deciding whether or not to enter the sliding doors of the train. That song by Aqua comes on – if you can’t remember it, just substitute ‘Barbie Girl’ in your head, because that’s a song that deserves remembering. But instead of taking either option, Gwyneth repeatedly bludgeons her weird flat face against the trains ‘sliding doors’, blood splattering in large starbursts. Imagine that, and you’re halfway to understanding how bad the decision was when we said yes to Mike’s modest proposal.

Mike is like a beautiful hothouse flower, grown in a greenhouse made of cheese. That’s a weird way of saying that Mike is one of the loveliest, stand-up guys I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing and that also his family is fucking batshit insane and their house a manifestation of all that is wrong with them. Imagine former US President George Bush Senior riding a giant bald eagle and instead of arms he has flags bearing the star spangled banner, and instead of legs he has guns and also the eagle is carrying a collection of teapots shaped like Rosie O’Donnell’s skull, and you’ll just have discovered the inspiration for their interior decoration.


The other thing to remember about this house, is that nothing opens from any direction without the use of the master key. So you couldn’t open the door of the house from the inside, if you didn’t have the key. You couldn’t open any of the windows. You couldn’t open the sliding door to the balcony. There’s no way out. Drums, drums in the deep.

Somewhere over the next four nights, the terrible event to which I am confessing occurs. On its own, the deed seems inexplicable and unforgivable. But before I am tried by my jury of fashionable peers, I need to weave the story of other shitty things that happened, to maybe promote an understanding of why I did this thing. This terrible, terrible thing.

The first inkling that our thrilling urban getaway was less holiday and more horror-day (that’s a difficult pun to enunciate) was on the first night when we decided we should do a booze run. My mate Bob, not able to fit into the car, but still wanting to go along on the expedition, decides that he’ll just walk the two blocks or so to the local shops. Around four hours later, people start to realise that nobody has see Bob since that fateful moment. We call him, and through an inexplicable static, as if we are on walky-talkies, we hear him yelling that he is ‘lost in a swamp’. We are in Oatley, a suburb bordered by yet more suburbs. There are no swamps in the suburbs. It is known. Then, using logic usually reserved for horror films, we fan out in a drunken search party, separately exploring the side streets and mysterious cul-de-sacs of Oatley and greater Mortdale. The rest of the night was literally spent finding missing people, like the worlds stupidest game of Marco-Polo. At around 3am, I found a tennis court, and sitting under the bright lights was Bob, looking extremely relieved and also covered in a strange amount of mud.

It was during the days where the absence of beach or any activities besides drinking became noticeable. We played Pictionary and drank Bloody Marys, and also succumbed to a group panic attack when Mike went to buy lunch, and took the key with him, effectively locking us in the house. The cloud of cigarette smoke was so dense by that point, you could actually effectively duck underneath it and hold conversations with it. And that night, when we went to sleep, the house next door burnt down. We were woken by the sirens and the crackle of flames, but had to rouse Mike’s brother before we could open the door and check it all out. It was about 3am by this point, and when he opened the door, sitting on the stoop, illuminated by the burning building was our friend Anna, smoking a cigarette. To this day nobody knows how she got out of the house, or more importantly, how the house next door burnt down… But this is not my confession. I did not burn down that house. Anna may have. A fun fact: on the same night as the house fire, Mike drunkenly chose to come out of the closet to his older brother, meaning that it wasn’t only the next door neighbour’s earthly belongings that were going up in flames, it was perhaps also Mike’s parent’s expectations of an all-American, gridiron loving, vagina-frequenting son.

My confession, unfortunately, involves animal cruelty. I need to establish that I really like animals. I like dogs more than people. I like cats more than civil liberties. I like big cows more than big-faced titties. The other day I spent two hours diverting a stream of ants out of my house, using blu-tac and lumps of sugar. I would never knowingly hurt an animal. Unfortunately there are two allegations of animal cruelty made against me on the last night of our Oatley adventure.

Sensing that our enthusiasm was waning, and also we kind of all hated each other, on the last night instead of beer and other lay-varieties of alcohol, Mike broke out some bottles of tequila and also some genuine Czech absinthe. We drank the absinthe in the traditional style – dripped over sugar, passed over with a flame, and then shotted like frat boys. After the first shot, Bob immediately vomited. The rest of us pushed on. I have no real memory of anything else that happened that night, but two things definitely did occur. Like a sick cat, I took myself into the backyard, picked a palm tree and then spent the next hour hurling on it. After I was finished, I went inside and like a sick cat passed out on Mike’s cat’s bed. The crime scene is now set – for after we left the next morning, two shocking things were discovered by Mike’s parents, recently returned from the US.

The first was that their cat was now violently opposed to its bed. With great concern, Mike’s mum repeatedly threw the cat onto the bed, where it would proceed to freak out. After discovering from Mike that I had drunkenly slept on that very bed, Mike’s mum made the following accusation. That I had sexually molested her cat. Just like an episode of Law and Order: Wild Accusations Unit, she calmly reviewed all the evidence, and then jumped to the most disturbing and weird conclusion she could think of. This was not a joke suggestion – Mike’s mum was seriously convinced that I had done this. Ladies and gentlemen, I am so very happy to tell you that I really, really didn’t.

Then, and I say this with multiple levels of shame, when they went outside to check on the pet tortoise, all they found underneath its favourite palm tree was a disgusting pile of vomit with a tortoise underneath it. I had vomited on Stanley the Turtle, a sentence which can only be followed by a thorough hanging of the head. The only defence I can muster here is that I was not aware of the fact that I was vomiting on a tortoise. I am sure there are people in this world who seek to carry out the very action I am describing with a degree of foresight and intent, and those people are monsters – but I am not one of them. It was dark, and tortoises have chameleonic properties. But apart from the fact that I yakked in someone’s backyard and didn’t even clean up after myself – the story gets a lot grimmer. You see, apparently tortoises have a layer of natural varnish on their shell, which keeps it waterproof. A varnish that is incredibly susceptible to things like stomach acid, which it had spent the night marinating under. A series of events that meant that if that tortoise ever wanted to swim, it would actually die, having lost its waterproof layering. Which is the grim knowledge I’ve lived with for years – the fact that I’d doomed Stanley to an existence without swimming, which is probably like flying for tortoises. Or I’d killed him. That is,  until I decided to run this confession by Mike at a Game of Thrones themed dinner party, where he was dressed as a ravishing Catelyn Stark. I wanted to make sure he was fine with me bad mouthing his family, and by the light of roaring sconces, around a mouthful of honeyed goose, Mike told me that in fact Stanley was alive and well, which is exactly the most unexpected twist you could think of at a soirée devoted to Game of Thrones.

Necrotic Flesh

This is a story that I read at 
Project 52’s
 Story Club, a fantastic event where people read amazing things at your faces. It occurs every month, much like my feelings of inadequacy!

EDIT: I recently read this story as part of the ‘Sick As’ reading at the National Young Writers Festival 2013, which was an absolute blast.

Unless your job is romping joyfully with puppies in a bouncy castle made of heroin and boobs, everyone has those days where you just don’t want to go to work. Maybe there’s a heavy workload and tight deadlines. Maybe you drank seven bottles of wine in the park the night before and yelled at teenagers about Captain Planet. Maybe the moon is out at the same time as the sun, and that makes you grumpy – and a bit scared. Regardless of the reason, one of the best ways I’ve discovered to overcome this funk, is by thinking back on the most horrifying jobs you’ve ever had. Not just the dull monotony of your high school fast food experience or the casual awfulness of telemarketing. I’m talking about that one workplace that isn’t so much a memory, but more of a deep pain that you carry somewhere in your ballbag. The idea is that this experience was so utterly soul destroying, that whatever you are currently undergoing feels like a jaunty walk through a cupcake.
For me, this was a summer job that my uncle kindly got me at a retirement village in North Sydney. Thin decrepit skeletons shuffling around and smelling of death and whisky – and that was just Milsons Point. No one really needs me to explain why a retirement village is upsetting, unless you are the kind of person who is uplifted by the idea of a place where people slowly lose every memory dear to them before dying. But I thought I was prepared for that level of sad. I’d practiced my understanding face in the mirror and developed a soothing tone to speak with, inspired by that movie The Horse Whisperer which I’ve never seen, and fundamentally misunderstand. And yes, these people were old, batty and sad but what I didn’t bank on, was the fact they were old, batty and sad rich people.

Much like a pickled onion, rich old people are like them. My primary job, after washing industrial loads of dishes, was to serve food and then remove the scraps. Sometimes I served tea. As a polite young man bought up in a house and not by sea-wolves, I felt infinitely qualified to do this. According to the aged tycoons populating this village, not only was I unqualified, but my method insulted every dead Anzac. Like in every ABC period drama ever, I would be sassed by old ladies for serving tea on the left side rather than the right, or not bowing as I exited the room or not pointing the multi-coloured mush they ate towards the sunset. Furthermore, because they were cashed up and possessed only a tenuous grasp of time, the majority of the residents drank like Hemingway all through the day. Or perhaps because they were old and in a retirement village, they knew exactly what time it was and not one fuck was given. While this might sound fun to you, this just means that when I served breakfast at 7am, many of the old people were a horrifying mix of fighty drunk, shouty drunk, sad drunk and most disturbingly, amorous drunk. And as anyone who’s worked in aged care knows, the delightful myth we propagate about old people not having sex is completely made up. In fact, there’s a huge problem with the spread of STI’s in old folks homes. But I’m not even talking about that – they can do whatever they want to each other. But because they all are stinking drunk, mostly blind and I am kinda pretty – I had to fend off the inappropriate gropings of old men all day. One dude motioned me over, got me to bend down, and then whispered in my ear

‘I can see your nipples.’

The worst thing was, after that I realised that he could actually see my nipples, as my shirt was indecently sheer.

There were of course some lovely people there, who were always perfectly delightful and polite. There were also the genuinely mad ones. Only two are really worth talking about. One was a lady named Beryl, who no matter what, always looked absolutely immaculate. Pearls, dusty mauve Chanel suits, a perm that could repel bullets. She also wasn’t allowed cutlery, because she tends to go for the eyes. When I served, she would sit bolt upright in her chair and stare unblinkingly at me, only her head moving fractionally as she tracked me around the room. Her mouth would quiver slightly, due to the intensity of her frustrated rage.The other was a lady named Fran who adamantly claimed she was a Polish princess and would make ‘special tea’ out of pot plants and pot pourri. I liked her a lot, because while she was off in a whole other world, it was a great world and she was happy there. Also, there was the outside chance that she was a Polish Princess, and she might leave me her castle in her will.

All I’ve done so far is set the scene. I’ve created a challenging ambience, a shitty backdrop to stage an amateur musical society’s version of ‘Cats’ on. Because while getting up at 4am every morning and coming to this place was depressing and hard, I was getting paid for it and I thought I could deal. Until Olga happened.

Olga worked in the retirement home as a nurse. Nurses are generally the most bad-ass, tough as nails, admirable people in the world. Olga was something else entirely. When I think of Olga, she’s always smoking the bitter end of a cigarette. Even though I understand that she couldn’t have been smoking inside, the complex pit of wrinkles and deep yellow stain that took the place of her mouth seem unimaginable without a cigarette in it. Olga had an accent which I can only describe as ‘generic Russian spy’. And she was the most depressing woman in the world. Perhaps because of the constant imaginary cigarette or more likely due to the sheer unholy weight of melancholia physically weighing her mouth down, Olga only ever spoke in clipped sentences. And it was awful.

‘Good morning Olga, how was your weekend?’

After waiting just long enough to make you think she mightn’t have heard you, she would exhale a long breath of stale smoke and then look at you from these dull, yellow eyes. Oh, and I apologise to the entirety of Russia for my attempt to mimic her accent.

‘My weekend was… not distinguishable.’

‘Bye Olga, I’ll see you tomorrow.’

‘Perhaps… perhaps you will.’

Olga got into my head in a bad way. I started having nightmares about her looking at me and saying things. I’d hallucinate her dry, joyless cackle. She was one of those people who only laughed when there was bad news. One day I was serving a resident tea and blood started gushing out of this old ladies mouth. I was horrified, and ran to get the nearest nurse. Unluckily it was Olga, who listened impassively as I explained the horrific nature of the medical emergency, took another drag on her cigarette, meditated silently on the problem and then while stubbing the butt out on the window pane, said ‘Ah, she always does that. I’ll get to her in a minute.’

By the time I came back, another nurse had tended to the woman, and I discovered the problem was actually a minor dental issue, rather than the lung rupture or heartsplosion that I’d diagnosed her with. But my problem with Olga and the job wasn’t just making me depressed and dispirited – I was scared. I developed an eye tic and once woke up in the night and vomited randomly after dreaming of Olga doing the crossword. I thought that maybe I’d calm down over the weekend, but knowing that I’d have to go back for another week of terror kept me sleepless and nervous. My skin went an interesting shade of translucent.

As I went in to work on the Monday morning, I honestly prayed that the train would derail itself or the place would burn down or my eyes would start bleeding spontaneously just so I wouldn’t have to go through with another week. I’d never felt so bad in my life, my fear and depression seemed to be manifesting at this early hour of the morning as some kind of feverish fugue and prickling pain in my neck. And when I got into work, one of the nurses, a lovely man who was saving up to buy a $9000 kareoke machine because why not, looked at me and kinda screeched,

‘What the hell is that on your neck?’

I’d thought I had a rather vigorous pimple, so was understandably abashed when he called over all the nurses and doctors to have a look at it. When I kept protesting that I was fine, he looked me in the eye and said ‘Listen, if there’s one thing you learn to spot a mile away when working in this place, it’s necrotic flesh. And that’s what the wound on your neck is.’

It turned out that I’d been bitten by a White Pointer spider, whose bite actually kills off your flesh, a bit like gangrene. If not cut out and treated with antibiotics, even the smallest bite can actually spread and kill you. If I get stressed, sometimes you can see the place where the bite was on my neck. So, it turns out that it wasn’t just my emotions that were making me feel bad, but also a bunch of poison. Things had gone from bad to worse, no?

But actually, the point I’m trying to make, that I’ve laboriously made my way to, is that the moment when I was told that I had to go to hospital instead of working at that retirement village, was probably the happiest I’ve ever felt in my entire life. The most pure explosion of joy to have even been transmitted to me via the medium of speech.

And that’s the lesson I want to impart to you all. A rare glimmer of hope in the seething pit of hardship that we call existence. Miracles can happen. Good things happen to good people – and also to people like me. I want you to go forth tonight with the knowledge that next time something awful happens to you, when you’re in a horrifying position that seems inescapable, you too might be lucky enough to get bitten by a flesh eating spider, which will somehow solve your problems.


This is a story I wrote for Story Club, which in this particular instance was on at the Old Fitz Theatre as part of The Horses Mouth Festival. It’s a swank event which is going all the way to December 17, so you should pound your walking leg into submission.
I rode a horse once. My sisters 11th birthday involved riding ponies around Stanwell Tops. It was practically a long, boring episode of The Saddle Club, except my sister’s bitchy friend Melissa didn’t learn her lesson in the end. I have a fundamental distrust of riding large animals – this may stem from this time I saw a camel chomp down on an American tourists face. So, when selecting our steeds, I asked for the oldest, placid, gentlest my little pony. They gave me Patch, a cloudy eyed old gelding who didn’t really react when I sat on him. His enormous face seemed to perpetually be trying to remember where he had put something.
As we rode along the winding trails, I swiftly realised that Patch was in his own senile horse world, completely oblivious to whatever I was doing with my reins or my spurs or whatever horse apparel I was wearing. This wasn’t a problem, until halfway through the ride, he separated himself from the rest of the group, and instead of continuing the climb up towards the sunshine and grassy meadows covered in butterflies and singing birds and equal rights, he took me down a side path shrouded in cold shadows, wreathed by spiderwebs and overhung by various kinds of stinging plants. While a part of me may have embraced my maverick, lone wolf status, exploring Shelobs lair like Frodo riding on the back of an aging, senile Sam – about half of my sisters friends horses followed me down the path towards the temple of doom. We saw brown snakes. We were covered in spiders. I was entirely unsuccessful at leading everybody in a Saddle Club theme song, sing-along.
But much like that ancient nag, I’m going to ignore the obvious trail in front of me, and say to hell with finishing that story. Instead I’m going to lead you down the shadowy side trail of this new anecdote. Is this because I have no more stories about literal horses? Yes. Is it because the end of the former story ends with us despondently eating sausage rolls? Yes. And is it because this other story is better? Let’s find out.
I used to work at a pub named Boyles Hotel, truly a shimmering carbuncle on the forgotten scranus that is the Sutherland Shire. Apparently in the eighties, Boyles was a dangerous bikie joint, famed for it’s violence and motorcycles and dedication to Khe Sahn. These days the place is patronised by whatever fading remnants of the bikie scene still remain, a bitter, curmudgeonly crowd of about fifteen geriatrics. Our rush hour was at 8am in the morning when the council workers would finish their night shifts. After optimistically doing a two week cocktail making course, the most exotic drink I got to make in my entire time there was a bourbon and coke. It was for a Sheila.
But if I made the venue sound boring, I am doing it an injustice, which I didn’t think was possible frankly. Much like a gangrenous leg that your stupid hiking buddy is just too cowardly to cut off, Boyles seemed to attract the local wildlife. This being Sutherland, instead of arctic wolves or bears, this meant lunatics and Rugby Union fans. The footy fans didn’t seem to ever drink inside the bar – instead on Friday nights they would gather outside and have long sprawling brawls that would eventually involve the police.
The most persistent of our resident eccentrics had one very particular goal in life. Like a disgusting salmon swimming upstream to disgust the other salmon, this man’s modus operandi was to shuffle into the pokie room, sit on a chair and shit himself. After doing this, he would simply leave.
But not everyone was as fun and harmless as old Stoolio – one night while working in the bottle shop section, I was absorbed in bagging my longnecks of VB when a kerfuffle breaks loose. Suddenly I see my coworker leaping the bench and roaring down the street. Turns out someone had just thrown a knife at us.
But after a few months, my shifts suddenly dried up, until I was getting something along the lines of 1 hour per week. This forced me to move on to an exciting job at the Miranda Target loading dock, which I was equally suited for and lasted a similar amount of time. Obviously I wasn’t heartbroken about losing my job at Boyles, and considering I wasn’t bosom buddies with any of the racist thugs that worked in that place, it wasn’t exactly mysterious. Or was it?
I didn’t hear the real reason behind my pseudo-firing from Boyles until it was delivered to me straight from the horses mouth. And by horse I mean incredibly high ex-coworker and by mouth I probably mean ecstasy-hole. Sitting on the train one late night with my girlfriend, this guy suddenly explodes through the door, making an upsettingly determined bee line towards me. When I worked with this fellow, I’d probably never exchanged more than two words with him. Those words were VB and panda. Now he was very excited to see me, and had a rather interesting story to tell.
Turns out that one of the owners of the bar who I had worked with a bunch of times decided that I was a homosexual, which he didn’t like. He then implemented a system where I would be rostered on to do all the most distasteful shifts, such as chasing Stoolio out of the pokies with a broom, so I would hopefully leave. Then when that didn’t work, he simply reduced all my shifts. So, while I was sitting there absorbing that not so surprising piece of homophobia, my new tripping friend added ‘Oh, and everyone thought you were really shit at counting.’ Which is true.
But once at my shitty retail job at the international airport, I got in a lot of trouble and was called in to the store managers office, which just happened to be located in the confectionary store room. My heart in my mouth, I stared at this woman who sat like a malevolent Willy Wonka, haloed by a diabetics hoard of candy, and tried to figure out my crime. There were any number of reasons why I deserved to be fired from this job, the only question being what I’d been caught doing.
My crime was pointing out to my co-workers the mystery shopper that had been staking out our store over the past few days. And part of the reason she was so annoyed, was that she was convinced someone in senior management must have blabbed to me about the secret shoppers identity. Slightly baffled, I told her that I’d heard it straight from the horses mouth, meaning I’d approached this suspicious woman and had a very interesting chat about what it takes to be a mystery shopper. Turns out it requires no qualifications.
The store manager tensed on her chocolate throne and asked me exactly what I meant by ‘the horses mouth’. She had obviously never heard the phrase before, and thought I was insulting her in some kind of new-fangled way that gang members insult people over Twitter.
And as a wrap up, the way that I sussed out the ultra secret identify of the mystery shopper was brain drippingly simple. As we worked in the departures terminal, anyone who is in our shop is flying on a plane to another country. They have gone through security and after they finish shopping, will get on a plane and go far away. There is no street traffic, and definitely no return customers. So when I saw the same woman in the shop for five days in a row, I knew she was either a mystery shopper or the ghost of a passenger who died, probably from all the incredible savings she was making in our store.